With the help of a grant through the New York Newspaper Association, students at Sherman Elementary School in Watertown, N.Y., soon will act as editors, reporters, and meteorologists to create their own online student newspaper using Apple iPads and other technology.
“This meshes in so well with what we need to accomplish,” said Jean M. Hinckley, the school’s library media specialist. “It’s about the 21st-century learner—it’s a skill that’s invaluable.”
The school was awarded a $10,012 grant to purchase 12 iPads, wireless internet routers, a secure mobility cart, and protective cases and applications for the devices.
The Parent-Teacher Organization and school Principal Margaret M. Drappo already put together a school paper called the Sherman School Sentinel, with input from teachers. The new student venture, which will be produced bimonthly, eventually will supplant the Sentinel.
The plan is to purchase the technology and have the school set up with wireless internet so students and staff can start working on the newspaper next school year. The paper will be based online, but there will be a print version available for any families who might not have a computer at home.
The online element will allow the paper to reach a greater audience, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles who might not live in the area, and any parents of Sherman students who are deployed.
“This will hopefully be a model for other schools and districts in Northern New York,” said parent Katherine B. Johnson, who wrote the application for the grant. She is the wife of John B. Johnson, general manager of Northern New York Newspapers, owner of the Watertown Daily Times. “It’s an opportunity to teach writing within the context of real life.”
The iPads will allow students to use the internet to look at other news outlet websites, and teachers can use current events as a teaching tool. The format of the online paper and the use of iPads to create it can work in connection with SMART Boards in the classrooms, so teachers can create lessons centered on the paper.